27 July 2012

Namibia: Pensions Only Up By End of August

SENIOR citizens will have to wait until the end of August before Finance Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila's promise of an increase of N$50 in monthly pensions is fulfilled.

Kuugongelwa-Amadhila announced in the national budget in March that monthly pensions will be increased to N$550.

The 2012-13 budget was gazzetted on June 15, which means that higher pensions could have been paid from the end of June already.

Deputy Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein yesterday said: "We are disappointed that the payments are delayed".

However, when the increase becomes effective by the end of next month, it will be backdated to April 1, when the current financial year started. In addition to their N$550, pensioners will therefore also receive N$200 for the months of April to July.

The Ministry of Finance last week said in its Quarterly Economic Update that people whose main income is old-age pensions "have higher inflation than those with steady salaries", as pensioners spend a larger portion of their salaries on food.

The Fourth National Development Plan (NDP4), also launched last week, called for social grants such as pensions to be increased in line with the inflation rate.

It said Government increased allowances like pensions, foster child grants and maintenance grants irregularly, or not at all for several years.

"Thus, the year value of the grants has declined, owning to inflation, and has resulted in beneficiaries not being able to maintain their standard of living," NDP4 said.

Alternatively, social grants should be increased in line with the salary increases of civil servants to allow the poor to maintain their living standard, the plan said.

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